About 6 months ago, or so, my dad introduced me to a local gem called Stanfield’s General Store, located in downtown Four Oaks, NC. I fell in love with the place as soon as I stepped through the door. When you walk in, it’s like going back in time about 50-60 years. Maybe that’s why I love it as much as I do…because, as the name of this blog implies, I have a vintage heart- I am old fogie deep-down inside, & this general store makes that part of my heart smile.
When you walk in the door, you’re transported from the busy, hectic life of the 21st century, to the memory of the warm, calm, & welcoming “old days.” The wooden floors, old-timey candy buckets, & walls lined with rustic antiques both enliven your senses & calm your mind at the same time. You get the sense the place has always been there like it’s been frozen in time, even though Stanfield’s General Store, as it is now, has only been around since 2015.
I stop by the general store every few months, sometimes for my favorite local wine, sometimes for one of their vintage, glass bottle sodas. But, since I was introduced to the place, I’ve always wanted to find out more about it, so I did. I’m excited to share this fantastic place with you, in hopes that you’ll visit & fall in love the same way I did.
The owner, David Stanfield, is local to the Johnston County area. He & his wife lived just down the road. Before he owned the buildings, Mr. Stanfield said it had actually been another general store, Austin’s General Store, since 1914. He remembered stopping by with his grandfather when he was a kid. He remembered listening to the tall tales the local gentlemen would share while sitting around the pot-belly wood stove that is nestled toward the back of the store. Mr. Stanfield worked in construction for a while & was “ready for a change.” He initially purchased the buildings to turn them into a wood-working shop for when he retired, but a lot of the locals kept reminding him about Austin’s, which had been closed about 8 years before he moved in. People kept suggesting he should start another general store back up. He said he’s always liked old general stores & hardware stores so he decided to give it a shot & opened Stanfield’s in 2015.
To help bring back the old general store feel, he lined the walls with antiques he had found & been collecting over time. He sells “a little bit of everything,” as he said, describing it as “Walmart is today…back then the general stores sold everything.” So he keeps that sense alive by offering just that, a little of everything. You can get anything from garden & hardware supplies to knives, jewelry, local food & art products, & so much more. He reminisced how one time the phone rang & he looked down & saw “Lowe’s” on the caller id. He picked up the phone & it was actually a representative from the local Lowe’s Home Improvement. They had a customer looking for a galvanized tub but they didn’t have any, so they called him to see if he had any, & sure enough, he did. She ended up buying the tub (for a lower price) & is planning to come back to get another one. He described how everyone tends to go to the big box stores, nowadays, thinking they can get everything cheaper there when in reality, that’s not always the case. He described how a lot of the common products he sells, he offers at a lower price than a lot of other local places.
He also offers a venue for local artists & food products to sell their wares. He said most of the artists whose work is sold there are actually from Johnston County. There are all types of art products- pottery, woodwork, soaps, candles, lotions, home & yard decor, & more. And he provides all sorts of local food goods- wine from local wineries like Gregory Vineyards & Duplin; cheeses from Ashe County, & a lot more.
He said his favorite products in the store are the items from the local artists. They’re not only his favorite but also some of his best-sellers. He said all of those items are unique & special. You can come & shop, & if you’re looking for a gift for the person who has everything, you’ll still be able to find something that’s just right for them. And honestly…it’s almost impossible to leave there empty-handed (trust me- I know from experience 😉 ). Christmas is his busiest season of the year, & it’s a great opportunity to visit the store to find the perfect gifts for your friends & family. He also offers different events throughout the year- like sip & shop events, or inviting local bluegrass musicians in for small performances.
Within the next few weeks, he is also planning to open an antique store next door, selling more antiques he’s collected over the years, similar to those that line the walls. As he looked around, he pointed out some of his favorite antiques that adorn the walls- the old push plow, which he said was his grandfather’s, & the old tobacco horses & baskets.
Mr. Stanfield has taken an old, closed down general store, & re-awakened a once-fading yet beautiful part of golden American life. Since he has re-opened the location as Stanfield’s he has added new fond memories to the ones he had as a kid visiting Austin’s. He said his favorite thing about owning Stanfield’s is all the people he’s met along the way- with visitors coming all the way from places like Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, & Georgia. He said the long-distance visitors began to stop by after his store was featured on the NC Weekend feature on UNC-TV. Check out the video below.
The old-fashioned heart in me is so glad to have found a local place like Stanfield’s- not only for the business it brings to the area, but also for the reminder that sometimes it’s good to slow down…to sit & chat…to crack open a cold soda & play a good game of checkers…and hopefully win a round or two.
Stop by sometime & fall back in love with a good, old-fashioned, American general store.
Be blessed, friends.